Posted: Wednesday August 9, 2006 1:04PM; Updated: Wednesday August 9, 2006 2:11PM
With a full season (hopefully) of Ron Artest and a new coach, the Kings hope to be in the thick of the race for the Western crown.
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images
The next leg of our trip around the world of blogdom includes a back-and-forth with Tom Ziller, proprietor of the fantastic Sactown Royalty site. The Kings have a new coach in Eric Musselman, a fab new arena on the way and a whole year with Ron Artest to look forward to. Is this a good thing? Let's find out.
SI.com: How will the Eric Musselman Era differ from the Rick Adelman Era?
Ziller: We can only dream of how different the Muss era will be after eight years of Adelman. Everyone talks about defense and effort, but both the defense and effort were great post-Artest in 2005-06. I think on offense we can expect the Kings to run a tick faster, maybe to where they were in '01 and '02 (among the quickest paces in the league). The personnel allows for that -- everyone but Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kenny Thomas can handle the ball and everyone but Brad Miller can run in transition.
When the Kings are in the half-court, I expect Muss to allow Mike Bibby and Artest to create opportunities instead of relying on the same three-play sets involving a high pick every time down. Miller is still valuable as a shooter and a passer from out high, but Bibby has been held back by having to be the team's spot-up shooter since Peja Stojakovic decided to stop playing in '04. I think we Kings fans are expecting a slighter deeper rotation, too. The guard depth is great, but the frontcourt depth is lacking. How Muss copes with this can't be worse than what Adelman did.
SI.com: Miller obviously is a top-drawer pivotman, but he's broken down toward the end of each of his NBA campaigns save for a truncated rookie year. Also, his career playoff averages are down from his regular-season contributions. So how can a two-month run with the USA Basketball team be good for his health, and the Kings?
Ziller:Miller is the King most susceptible to lapses in confidence. He gets easily discouraged when missing a few shots or getting an undeserved foul. There's a flip side, though: One big shot or a great block will inspire this guy like no one else. That's why his Team USA participation is great; it will turn his motor back on. Listening to a guy like Mike Krzyzewski every day cannot be a bad thing, and watching the youngsters such as Dwight Howard and Amaré Stoudemire represent the nation will inspire the rather patriotic Miller.
If the Kings start off well, that motivation will stay with Miller longer than you'd think. The Kings have to find a way to mitigate the negative impacts -- extra mileage and less time in the garage -- during the season, though. GM Geoff Petrie needs to conjure up someone who can play 15 minutes a night at center without being an embarrassment, and Muss has to keep Miller to around 32-35 minutes a game for the first half of the season. Getting wins now is important, but saving up some Miller for crunch time is crucial.